A VIBRANT DOWNTOWN OXNARD:
Oxnard’s Core Downtown Corridor will become vibrant and alive places when there are more people to frequent the areas. Oxnard must increase the density of nearby residential areas to get more people Downtown. Zoning changes, to mandate moderate density, is what is needed and is the only thing that will change the current poorly frequented Downtown areas.
To get more people Downtown, Oxnard needs to change its zoning ordinances to incentivize infill housing and multi-story mixed use building in its Downtown Corridor areas.
Current Oxnard zoning incentivizes sprawl. Zoning changes along the Oxnard Blvd/ Saviers Rd Corridor will reverse this negative trend and bring building, investment and vitality back to our Downtown areas.
The major benefit and result of zoning changes will be to bring more People into core Downtown areas which will encourage small businesses like restaurants and galleries, clothing and book stores, local foods and produce, and other like small businesses catering to people that live in the area and beyond. For example nearby communities have stores that sell specialty olive oils, kitchen supplies and local produce. This will happen because zoning changes will increase property values and stimulate investment in Downtown Oxnard.
Zoning changes, in addition to benefitting Oxnard as a whole, will benefit local property owners, contractors, builders and crafts people as the money earned and spent on smaller infill projects is recycled in the local community many times over. With large-scale developers (developments), there is little incentive to do the right thing for Oxnard and where the money mostly goes out of the area, the community is saddled with long-term costs. Large scale developers, all too often – hit and run – shunting long-term costs onto the Oxnard community for many years to come.
Anyone who thinks that promoting and developing Downtown Oxnard specifically to attract tourists is seriously misguided. Tourists, pure and simple, are attracted to vibrant culturally alive places, which unfortunately Downtown Oxnard currently is not. However, once Downtown Oxnard is a thriving place that locals are attracted to and frequent – then and only then – does Downtown Oxnard have a chance of attracting tourists.
Embrace and encourage Oxnard’s cultural diversity (one successful example is Vallarta Market)
Recognize and develop Downtown Oxnard for the People of Oxnard (when we are successful the tourists will come)
Change the zoning to INCENTIVIZE building and development to create Moderate density infill housing and multi-story mixed-use in Oxnard’s Downtown Corridor areas
Make Oxnard a pedestrian and bicycle friendly Complete Streets community – People first – cars only after people (listen up traffic engineers)
Redesign/recreate the Oxnard Blvd/Saviers Rd Corridor (The Collection-101 to the Sea) into a tree lined road with wide sidewalks, separated bicycle lanes with lots of bicycle parking (because of the vibrancy created by increases in density, People will flock to pedestrian/bicycle oriented vibrancy)
Establish an Oxnard Blvd/Saviers Rd (The Collection-101 to the Sea) Design and Development District. Staff it with visionary and creative City planners and arborists – and include, from the public, artists, restauranteurs, Master Gardeners and stakeholders interested in a vibrant Oxnard.
KEEP AT ARMS LENGTH:
Anyone who says “it can’t be done” or that “there is not enough money” – or whatever the negative conversation…
YES WE CAN:
This is a long-term endeavor…keep the faith, stay the course.
A Facebook conversation about this can be found here:
Braving the New World of Performance-Based Zoning
“Conventional zoning is downright sinister in the ways that it forms a barrier against good urbanism.”
“The critical thing is to zone for what will create great places, rather than to zone simply for sprawl, as has been mindlessly done for decades,”
“The problem isn’t zoning per se — it’s zoning that requires all the wrong things, few of the right things, and well-intentioned, piecemeal amendments that have made an incomprehensible mess.”
Conventional zoning is an outdated barrier against good urbanism, but there’s disagreement on the best way forward.
Most people might think of zoning as the province of white-haired volunteer boards, but in an increasingly developed world, it has a larger importance. Codes that guide development are the DNA of human settlement.
The problem is that most zoning hasn’t changed with the times, for nearly a century now. It’s like having traffic rules and manufacturer regulations based on the Model T.
A short history: The landmark 1926 Supreme Court case Euclid v. Ambler Realty confirmed the authority of local governments to lay down the law on building—literally. Zoning, in legal terms, is considered part of police powers, enforcing health and safety. A hundred years ago, cities were increasingly congested and dirty places, and planners sought to spread things out and separate noxious uses; a tannery shouldn’t be next to a townhouse, and so on.
The principle of separation of uses led to the color-coded zoning maps pinned up in most town halls: residential here, commercial over there, and industrial over by the other town’s border. But the approach is pretty much entirely inappropriate for urban development—and especially infill, downtown, and transit-oriented development.
Conventional zoning is downright sinister in the ways that it forms a barrier against good urbanism.
Conventional zoning is downright sinister in the ways that it forms a barrier against good urbanism. It prohibits live-work arrangements, residential over retail, and all other manner of the mixed-use environments that are proven formulas for vitality, walkability, and convenience. Outdated and NIMBY-driven codes ban accessory dwelling units and the occupation of carriage houses and in-law apartments, as well as infill cottages—building smaller dwellings on empty portions of already-developed residential land—which would instantly increase the supply of affordable housing.
And zoning has another attribute, typical of a system long overdue for an overhaul: all kinds of loopholes and amendments, layered on like barnacles. For instance, the “approval not required” clause in Massachusetts doesn’t give the local planning board any say on development, as long as it fronts on an existing street. A coalition has tried to get reform legislation passed for years, but the homebuilders lobby has blocked a full vote (and the subject is so obscure, it’s hard to get anyone to care).
What to do, then? The 1960s and 1970s saw a fresh take with conditional zoning, special permits, and planned-unit developments. Credit New Urbanism for drawing attention to the need for new codes around the beginning of the 1990s: When neo-traditional planners went to build the equivalent of a New England town square, they found it was illegal.
In the 21st century, the most notable innovation has been the form-based code. It is less concerned with the use that goes on inside buildings and more with their appearance and the way they relate to each other and shape the streetscape in the context of a vision for a neighborhood. The most high-profile adoption is Miami 21, but a surprising number of cities have taken the plunge, including Denver, Cincinnati, El Paso, Nashville, Fort Worth, and nearly two dozen others.
Joel Russell, executive director of the Form-Based Codes Institute—yes, there is such a thing—has said he hopes to take things to the next level by emphasizing the benefits of a code overhaul to a broader public. He is taking the campaign on the road in the coming days, to the Future of Places conference in Buenos Aires.
Some of the most out-of-the-box thinking is coming from (where else?) the Bay Area, with the adoption of “performance-based zoning.” In the city of Fremont, the city council chose a new path for a nearly 900-acre parcel anchored by a future BART station, set for massive redevelopment. Planners started with a set of goals—a certain number of jobs, a certain number of homes including affordable homes, and critically, strict standards for a low carbon footprint. However developers achieve all that is their business.
“We wanted to get away from the usual laundry list—You can do this, this is a conditional use—and instead say that, if you can achieve this, you decide about the uses,” said Noah Friedman, senior urban designer at Perkins + Will and force majeur behind the Warms Springs South Fremont Community Plan. The zoning, approved by the city council, “doesn’t tell you how to achieve the standard, just that you need to achieve that standard.”
The former Toyota plant site, a regional hub soon to be strategically accessible, is envisioned as a “workplace TOD,” including 9.6 million square feet of light industrial, research and development, office, convention, retail, entertainment, hotel and residential development. The targeted 19,390 jobs and 4,000 homes can be phased in over time.
Bring it on. Explore the frontier. Anything’s better than the mainframes we have now.
The performance-based approach is also being tested in the Atlanta region, where planners are rethinking the framework for light industrial development in a world where there just aren’t a lot of tanneries anymore. It’s a zen approach to setting down the rules: zoning without being zoning. Or call it Zoning 2.0, though like a lot of garage startups, the concept can be traced back many years. The notion of judging development by its impact rather than its use categories can be found in the 1980 book Performance Zoning—and who doesn’t have that on their shelf?—by Lane Kendig. The concept never took off quite the way its initial backers hoped, however, with several local governments giving it a try and then abandoning it. The Fremont experiment represents a new hope as performance-based zoning gets fined-tuned and draws from the framework established by LEED, the green building standard.
Devotees of form-based codes suggest there are good things about performance-based zoning, but that it’s not the answer unto itself.
“The critical thing is to zone for what will create great places, rather than to zone simply for sprawl, as has been mindlessly done for decades,” says Russell. “The problem isn’t zoning per se—it’s zoning that requires all the wrong things, few of the right things, and well-intentioned, piecemeal amendments that have made an incomprehensible mess.”
Different views of the best way forward sure sounds like foment to me. And that may be the best sign yet that zoning is entering a new phase of disruption: a little Apple vs. Microsoft-style rivalry.
Bring it on. Explore the frontier. Anything’s better than the mainframes we have now.